Among Them: Anarcha, Lucy, Betsey

Dr. James Marion Sims (1813-1883) considered to be "the father of modern gynecology" trained at Thomas Jefferson Medical College. He is known to how used enslaved African American women as experimental subjects. He performed multiple surgeries on these women without anesthesia. This allowed him to enhanced his skills and to design a variety of gynecologic instruments including the vaginal speculum. Later he becomes the president of the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Gynecologic Society.

One day before the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, I look back and think of these women. The words of James Weldon Johnson come to mind: "Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us. Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us." Thank you Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey. I celebrate you.


This portrait of Dr. Sims was commissioned by Parke Davis Pharmaceutical company and drawn by Robert Thom to celebrate " Great Moments in Medicine".

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